Cardiovascular disease is a general term used to describe a disease that affects the heart and blood vessels. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death globally, with statistics from 2019 stating that an estimated 17.9 million people died from some type of cardiovascular disease, making up 32% of all global deaths that year.\n\n\n\nFurthermore, a report from the American Heart Association found that the projected total system-wide costs of dealing with cardiovascular diseases in the U.S. are expected to reach $1.1 trillion per year by 2035, signaling a need not just for a cure, but also more effective treatment options in general.\n\n\n\nFortunately, there are several companies currently working on different types of treatments within the cardiovascular space, and a cure for cardiovascular diseases may even be on the horizon after Moderna recently stated that vaccines for this group of diseases could be ready by the end of this decade. \n\n\n\nHere, in alphabetical order, we have listed six of the top cardiovascular companies making a name for themselves.\n\n\n\n\n\nAcesion Pharma \n\n\n\nDanish cardiovascular company Acesion Pharma is focused on developing first-in-class novel therapies for atrial fibrillation (AF). AF is the most common type of cardiac arrhythmia, and occurs due to the abnormal firing of electrical impulses, which causes the atria - the upper chambers of the heart - to quiver. \n\n\n\nThe company aims to treat AF through the inhibition of SK channels, which are ion channels present in the heart that help regulate cardiac rhythm. With several studies having already provided a strong genetic validation of the SK channel target by showing strong associations between genes encoding different subtypes of the channel and AF in humans, the recent phase 2 results for Acesion's lead candidate, AP30663, has provided a proof-of-concept for the general mechanism of SK inhibition to treat AF. \n\n\n\nAP30663 is a first-in-class SK ion channel inhibitor for conversion of AF to normal sinus rhythm, delivered through an intravenous infusion. \n\n\n\nAcesion is also advancing an oral SK channel inhibitor program for maintenance of sinus rhythm in patients with AF, using a second generation molecule with higher specificity that avoids ventricular effects while maintaining efficacy in preclinical models. \n\n\n\nActicor Biotech\n\n\n\nActicor Biotech is a spin-off from the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM), and is developing a treatment for cardiovascular emergencies. Its main focus is on acute ischemic stroke (AIS), which is characterized by the sudden loss of blood flow to the brain. \n\n\n\nThe company’s drug candidate, glenzocimab, is a humanized monoclonal antibody fragment. It is directed against the human platelet glycoprotein GPVI, as GPVI blockade has been seen to demonstrate its effective antithrombotic potential in experimental models of thrombosis without increasing pathological bleeding, which represents a common safety risk when developing treatments that target platelets.\n\n\n\nGlenzocimab is being evaluated for use in the acute phase of ischemic stroke as an add-on therapy to thrombolysis - a treatment to dissolve dangerous clots in blood vessels - with or without mechanical thrombectomy. \n\n\n\nIt was also announced last year that, after the signing of a partnership between Acticor Biotech and the University of Birmingham, a new phase 2b clinical trial called LIBERATE would take place in two acute care hospitals in the U.K. that will include more than 200 patients in the acute phase of myocardial infarction, to test the safety and efficacy of glenzocimab 1,000mg versus placebo in reducing cardiac damage from the infarction. \n\n\n\nCardurion Pharmaceuticals\n\n\n\nCardiovascular company Cardurion Pharmaceuticals is focused on the development of novel, next-generation therapies for the treatment of heart failure, as well as other cardiovascular diseases, through the science of cardiac myocyte signaling pathways. \n\n\n\nThe company’s lead candidate is called CRD-740, for the treatment of heart failure, and is a phosphodiesterase-9 (PDE9) inhibitor. It targets the PDE9 enzyme, which metabolizes cardiac cGMP generated by the natriuretic peptide receptor (NPR) pathway. Activation of this pathway has proven clinical benefit in both reduced (HFrEF) and preserved ejection fraction heart failure (HFpEF). CRD-740 is expected to provide benefit, both on its own and when used in combination with standard of care heart failure treatments.\n\n\n\nThe company announced the dosing of patients in a phase 2 clinical trial of CRD-740, called CARDINAL-HF, in July last year. CARDINAL-HF is a randomized, placebo-controlled trial enrolling more than 650 patients, and will include chronic, stable patients with HFrEF and HFpEF. \n\n\n\nFurthermore, the company has also initiated a phase 1 trial of its novel CaMKII inhibitor for catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (CPVT) - a rare inherited heart rhythm disturbance. \n\n\n\nHeartseed\n\n\n\nTokyo-based cardiovascular company Heartseed is aiming to treat cardiovascular disease using regenerative medicines, with its lead candidate, HS-001, focusing on heart failure. HS-001 is an investigational cell therapy that consists of clusters of cardiomyocyte spheroids - purified heart muscle cells - derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). These are designed to restore heart muscle and function. \n\n\n\nSeveral preclinical studies have been conducted in which iPSCs-derived cardiomyocytes have been shown to improve heart function, and earlier this year, Heartseed and Novo Nordisk - which have been in partnership since 2021 - announced the dosing of the first patient in a phase 1/2 clinical study of HS-001, in which HS-001 will be transplanted into the diseased heart tissue during open-heart surgery in conjunction with a planned coronary artery bypass graft procedure. \n\n\n\nLast month, Heartseed also raised $14 million in series D funding, in one of May’s biggest private biotech investments in the Asia-Pacific region, bringing its total financial backing to approximately $74 million since it was founded in 2015. The recent funding will go towards the completion of the phase 1/2 trial of HS-001, and the company will also look at a less invasive administration method, such as transendocardial injection. \n\n\n\nSerca Pharmaceuticals\n\n\n\nCardiovascular company Serca Pharmaceuticals is currently developing 13-M - its lead candidate - which is a small molecule used to minimize tissue damage that occurs with blood reperfusion post myocardial infarction and stenting. \n\n\n\nMyocardial infarction - otherwise known as a heart attack - is one of the leading causes of death and disability worldwide, and without treatment, it is thought that 30% of patients will go on to develop heart failure. \n\n\n\n13-M has been shown to have important protein to protein interaction characteristics with the capacity to modulate the SERCA2 Ca2+ pump. By targeting the AKAP18d-PLB protein to protein interaction that is specifically found in heart tissue in this manner, it prevents the activation of SERCA2 and the calcium (Ca) transport out of cytosol, and the contractile force and energy consumption upon adrenergic stress is reduced without any effect on the patient’s heart rate.\n\n\n\nCurrently in preclinical development, 13-M has been evaluated in a rat model and was shown to reduce myocardial infarction size, assessed by infarction biomarker troponin and infarction size.\n\n\n\nVerve Therapeutics\n\n\n\nThe PCSK9 gene is known to inhibit the removal of cholesterol from the blood, which raises the risk factors for developing cardiovascular problems, and individuals with mutations that disrupt the gene have been found to have lower cholesterol levels. Therefore, coming up with a treatment that will disrupt this gene is a promising method of preventing cardiovascular problems.\n\n\n\nVerve Therapeutics is focusing on doing just that, with a one-shot gene therapy that will disrupt the PCSK9 gene. Its lead candidate, VERVE-101, is designed to be a single-course treatment that permanently turns off the PCSK9 gene in the liver to reduce disease-driving LDL-C - otherwise known as ‘bad’ cholesterol. \n\n\n\nThe therapy is currently being tested in a phase 1b trial in patients with heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (HeFH), which is an inherited genetic disorder that causes dangerously high cholesterol levels, potentially leading to heart attack, heart disease or stroke if left untreated.\n\n\n\nThe cardiovascular company is also working on a single-course gene therapy that targets the ANGPTL3 gene, which is a key regulator of cholesterol and triglycerides in the liver. Disrupting the ANGPTL3 protein could also lead to reductions in LDL-C and triglycerides.